NPS Retirees Reject 'Hoffman Lite' Version of National Park Service Management Policies, Warn of Grave Dangers Still Posed by Rewrite
Retirees Raise Doubts About Whether '100 Key NPS Professional Staff'
Have Actually Signed Off on Hoffman-Influenced Draft;
Concern That Fear of Retribution Will Preclude
Honest Critique by Career Employees
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- An initial review of the rewrite of the proposed management policies for the National Park Service (NPS) is getting an emphatic "thumbs down" from the 440-member Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), who represent nearly 13,000 years of National Park Service management. CNPSR Spokesperson Bill Wade, the former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, said: "We had high hopes that the National Park Service would heed the virtually unanimous rejection of the initial draft of the NPS rulebook proposed by political appointee Paul Hoffman, the former Chamber of Commerce official from Cody, Wyoming. Instead of moving away from the Hoffman approach, the political appointees at the Interior Department came back on October 17th with what amounts to 'Hoffman lite.' Unfortunately, a little bit of Mr. Hoffman's attack on our national parks goes a long way -- in fact, far too long a way for those of us who make it our priority to protect America's national parks for future generations. Not only has no compelling case been presented for rewriting the 2001 NPS management policies, but we are seeing what we believe is most likely a false claim that the revised draft represents the views of 'more than 100 key NPS professional staff.' We challenge the Interior Department to name these 100 of our former colleagues who would embrace this only somewhat watered down version of Mr. Hoffman's deadly prescription for national parks. We simply do not believe that 100 key/non-political NPS officials -- that is career people such as ourselves -- actually signed off on this document. If they did, we would be delighted to be corrected. We look forward to seeing the list to which the Interior Department and NPS Director Mainella keeps referring in defending this rewrite. Our initial analysis of the proposed revisions to the NPS management policies leads to the conclusion that these revised policies are fatally flawed at its foundations. Coalition Member Bill Brown, former NPS Historian and author of Islands of Hope characterized the new version this way: 'Tectonic shifts away from traditional philosophy and the intents of governing statutes are the general and pervasive hallmarks of these revised policies. To polish the apple when it is rotten at the core is a waste of time.' What are some of specific concerns? Consider the gutting of Section 1.4.3 of Chapter 1 -- The Foundation -- of the legitimate 2001 NPS Management Policies. The attack on this Foundation renders the entire rewrite document structurally unsound. This Section, in the legitimate 2001 Management Policies summarizes the statutory evolution of the Organic Act that created the National Park Service in 1916. It is the distilled essence of the mandates of the Congress in the light of experience and changing times. Those mandates are explicit in resolving the age-old question of priorities: preservation and use. In order to preserve these crown jewels for future generations of Americans, the 2001 rules put preservation first, because the integrity of the National Park System itself -- the protected landscapes and cultural artifacts -- is the basis for the derivation of values which we celebrate in these sacred places. These principles are set forth as statutory language and declarations of the Congress. But these critical words and declarations are diluted or dropped from the pages of the revised policies. The recasting of Section 1.4.3 results in 'fuzzing up' and confusing the clarifications of the Congress in the 1970 General Authorities Act and the 1978 Redwood amendment. Replacing the language of the Congress is interpretation and argumentation designed to fit a politically dictated agenda. These arguments, among other things, equate preservation and enjoyment, in direct contradiction to the law on the books that puts preservation in a first and logical order. This regressive shift is intended to open the way for more mechanized 'enjoyment' -- so called! -- and additional commercialization of the parks. Moreover, throughout Chapter I, The Foundation, as restated in the proposed rewrite, there is departure from the straightforward mandates of the 2001 Management Policies. This straying from the straight and narrow is a reflection of the jerry-rigged nature of the revised policies. They are not the product of organic growth, considered thought, and real participation by agency professionals. Nor are they grounded on the true foundation of law and intent of the Congress. Rather they reflect a rush job by a political functionary whose objectives are political: to open the parks to commercialization and mechanical intrusions inimical to the dignity and preservation of the national parks of the United States of America. We believe that if many career NPS employees were completely free from political pressure and possible retribution they would more readily admit that they share our deep concerns about parts of the newest revision. In what seems like obviously convenient timing, mid- and upper-level managers will now be more reluctant to be forthright in their comments on the policies as a result of a directive released just over a week ago by NPS Director Fran Mainella. This directive requires validation that candidates for various mid- and upper-level positions in the NPS demonstrate support for Secretary Norton's 4 - C's ('communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation') policy and for the President's Management Agenda. Taking anything but supportive positions on the current version of the management policies could be used against them as evidence of non-support. We commend our colleagues who are still working for the NPS who have been engaged in a less than successful attempt to turn a proposed draft of the policies initiated by Hoffman into something that could withstand serious scrutiny in terms of minimizing harmful impacts on the national park system. But the current version is still, in many places, the Hoffman version dressed in a ranger uniform, and is still not good for the parks. The fatally flawed Foundation Chapter renders the proposed revised policies, to coin a phrase, irreversibly impaired." Wade said that the Coalition will continue to review the details of the entire proposed revision of the NPS management policies, and will be posting details of this review, as they are developed, on its website: http://www.npsretirees.org. ABOUT CNPSR The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (http://www.npsretirees.org) is made up of former employees of the National Park Service (NPS), numbering 440 and with more joining each day. Many members were senior leaders of NPS and many of received awards for stewardship of our country's natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members come from the broad spectrum of political affiliations. As park managers, rangers and employees in other disciplines, they devoted their professional lives to maintaining and protecting our national parks for the benefit of all Americans -- both living and those yet to be born. CNPSR members have served this country well, and their credibility and integrity in speaking out on these issues should not go ignored.
SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.
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